4 COMMON CAUSES OF TRUCKING ACCIDENTS
1) Truck Driver’s Failure to maintain appropriate follow distance
In California, truck accidents are responsible for some of the most severe automobile related injuries. Some of the most common causes of trucking accidents are identified below:
According to The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 5 percent of all truck accidents occurred when commercial truck drivers follow too close behind the lead vehicle.
What Is a Safe Distance? According to the Department of Transportation (DOT) a truck travelling below 40 mph should leave at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length. A typical tractor-trailor combination is 80 feet in length.
The average stopping distance for a loaded tractor trailer travelling 55 mph is 196 feet. U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d).Commercial Motor Vehicle Traffic Enforcement Targeting Crash-Causing Violations. Retrieved August 23, 2019, from: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/driver-safety/cmv-driving-tips-references#R79
The FMCSA also recommends that truck drivers double their follow distance in situations involving adverse weather conditions.
2) Truck Driver’s Failure to Use Hazard Lights and Place Caution Cones Behind Truck When Stopped Along the Side of The Roadway
Disabled and parked Trucks cause hundreds of collisions every year by failing to warn other drivers that the truck is stopped along the freeway. This is particularly signifant at night-especially in areas with few or no street lights.
Federal Regulations 392.22 states that when a commercial driver is stopped along the freeway for any reason, the driver of the stopped commercial motor vehicle shall immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers and continue the flashing until the driver places the warning devices (this does not apply to routin traffic stops).
The General Rule for Placing Caution Cones Around Disabled Truck:
Caution Cones should be placed about the truck in the following manner: (i) one on the traffic side of and 4 paces (approximately 3 meters or 10 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the direction of approaching traffic; (ii) One at 40 paces (approximately 30 meters or 100 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the center of the traffic lane or shoulder occupied by the commercial motor vehicle and in the direction of approaching traffic; and (iii) One at 40 paces (approximately 30 meters or 100 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the center of the traffic lane or shoulder occupied by the commercial motor vehicle and in the direction away from approaching traffic.
3) Truck Driver’s Drowsiness and Fatigue
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver fatigue is the main cause of truck accidents.
Significantly, driving while fatigued is similar to driving while intoxicated. According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving awake for 18 hours straight is equavalent to driving with an alcohal level of .05. If you drive for 24 straight hours, it is similar to driving with a .10 blood alcohal level.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) places strict limits on truck driver driving time, which is commonly referred to as “hours of service”. The most common DOT hours of service regulations are as follows:
- Each on-duty period must begin with at least 10 hours off-duty
- Truck drivers cannot work more than 60 on-duty hours over 7 consequtive days
- Drivers may work 14 consequitve on-duty hours, but they are limited to 11 hours of driving time
- Drivers must take a mandatory 30 minute break by their 8th on-duty time
- There are many additional rules and exceptions to the rules identified above. If you have specific questions about DOT hours of service, you should promptly contact an attorney with specific knowledge in this area.
How Do You Prove Truck Driver Fatigue: Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations may require truck driver to prepare vehicle logs, which force the driver to document the time he begins his trip and the time he ends his trip. The driver logs also may identify when the truck driver took and meal or rest break. Most Truck drivers do not falsify vehicle logs because the driver could pay a hefty fine if a DOT inspector discovers that he falsified his log book (fines could exceed $10,000.00). Additionally, many truck drivers are paid on an hourly basis. If, for some reason, the driver falsifies his log book, he is more likely to claim that the drove more (as opposed to less) hours. Obviously, the longer a truck driver operates his vehicle is directly related to driver fatigue.
4) Inadequate Vehicle Maintenance and Tire Problems
Trucking companies regularly fail to perform adequate maintenance, repairs, and inspection on their tractors and trailors. The reasons seem obvious. It costs trucking companies big money to perform vehicle repairs. Additionally, trucking companies lose revenue each time a vehicle is taken out of service. Unfortunately, some companies care more about profits than people. These companies place their drivers and members of the public at risk by failing to adequately maintain their vehicles.
Common examples of inadequate maintenance include, but are not limited to: failure to check tires for wear and tear and failure to check breaks for wear and tear.
Trucking companies also fail to adequately inspect and repair their vehicles. Trucks usually don’t break down along the side of the road unless the company failed to properly inspect the truck before permitting its driver to operate the vehicle. Inadequate inspection and repairs cause thousands of accidents each year.
If you are involved in a trucking accident, you should immediately contact The Koppelman Law Firm. An attorney such as David Koppelman is in the best possible position to collect necessary evidence and promptly inspect all vehicles involved in the collision. A prompt inspection after a truck collision allows the client to ensure that important evidence is properly preserved after a truck collision.